A video of adults, who are off-camera, exchanging profanities, insults and sexual comments with a young, diaper-clad boy has stirred online discussion and raised questions about why the Omaha police union would post the video on Facebook and its website.
John Wells, Omaha police union president, described the video as an example of how the cycle of violence and “thuggery” continues in Omaha.
“We here at OmahaPOA.com viewed the video and we knew that despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law-abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in,” the police union blog post said.
In the video, a man jokingly cusses at the boy and asks him to curse back. The boy does and at one point, raises his middle finger to the camera.
In the video, an adult references the 29th Street Bloods gang. Wells said someone sent the police union a link to the video, which had been posted on a public Facebook page.
While no obviously illegal activity is portrayed in the video, Wells said, it's clear the child isn't being raised in a healthy environment.
“Unfortunately, there is no crime against raising your kids that way,” Wells said. “It is quite the snapshot into violent crime culture happening in Omaha.”
Willie Hamilton, executive director of Black Men United in Omaha, said that although he doesn't condone behavior portrayed in the video, it is inappropriate for the police union to single out this child to draw sweeping conclusions about the cycle of violence.
Many people have called him to say that the video further damages the relationship between Omaha police and the black community, Hamilton said.
“The police actually have a website that is perpetuating mistrust and anger, and I think that is what it is meant to do,” Hamilton said. “I thought posting the video was crossing the line. To use that incident to say that our kids are going to grow up and be thugs is far-reaching and insensitive. We are talking about a child that hasn't even gone to school yet.”
Wells said the union shared the video to educate the public and didn't intend to “belittle anyone by sharing the video.”
The video was later embedded on the police union's blog, which had garnered 32,000 views by midday Monday. The police union forwarded the video to Omaha Police Department's Youth Services Division for review.
Hamilton said this isn't the first time the union has posted questionable content on its blog or Facebook website. The union shouldn't be allowed to post a video of this nature, he said.
“If the police chief is trying to amend the broken relationship with our community, he needs to say, 'On my watch, I will not allow this kind of behavior,'” Hamilton said. “Maybe we should look at how much control the police union has. They shouldn't be able to use the website as a shield to post these nasty things.”